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Mega boxship contracts keep on coming

Mega boxship contracts keep on coming

London: The Panama Canal Authority's plans to expand the waterway constitute a challenge for container lines as they consider new tonnage. Lloyd's Register points out that orders are still being placed, although the pace of contracting has eased, and that the ability of much larger vessels to transit the Panama Canal once the new approach channels and locks come into service in 2014 will radically alter the trading patterns of the container fleet.

In its latest Container Ship Focus, the classification society notes that there are now more than 200 post-10,000 teu container ships on order and contracts keep on coming. Also, over the past few months, a number of contracts have been "upsized" so that the dimensions of ships already on order now exceed the new panamax (NPX) width limit of 49 metres. Lines are apparently opting for 51.2-metre beams.

Meanwhile, despite oil prices tumbling on Tuesday to around $90, their lowest for more than six months, the operating economics of large container ships have entered a new era. Interviewed in the pages of the classification society's publication, CMA CGM's Director for the Asia / Europe trades Nicolas Sartini says container lines are preparing for a prolonged period of high fuel costs.

"Under these circumstances there is no other way than to continue slowing down the vessels," Sartini comments. Running ships more slowly can save as much as 100 tonnes a day, he points out, which at the bunker price peaks in July could have meant a daily saving of up to $70,000 a day".  [16/09/08]